This is such a great recipe and we are so excited to share it with you today! You can always tell the good bakers from the great bakers based on their vanilla cake recipe! It’s a tricky one to get *just* right and we are here to help you achieve that perfect, quintessential, moist, delicious, very vanilla cake!
What makes this the Best Vanilla Cake Recipe?
When I think of vanilla cake, I think of something light, sweet and flavorful! There are several reasons why I think this is the best vanilla cake recipe out there:
- Flavor – If you want to test a baker, ask them to make Vanilla Cake. Believe it or not, it’s a lot easier than you think to mess up such a basic cake. Because the flavor is so simple you can pick up on the tiniest of things. Well, I took the guesswork out of Vanilla Cake for you by perfecting its subtle yet divine flavor.
- Texture – You won’t have to worry about the texture either! Some cakes get weighed down and are way too dense, while others rise too much and you get a lot of fluff. This recipe is somewhere in between. The crumb is tender with small air pockets yet dense enough to stay together.
- Moisture – And let’s talk about the moisture! I know some of you hate the word moist, but that is exactly what Vanilla Cake should be! I’ve ensured this by trial and error, testing upon testing of what the right ratio of dry to wet ingredients should be. And I’ve cracked the code!
- Versatility – Now you can make a lot of different types of cake with this recipe. Tiered, 9×13, or even cupcakes are an option. But you can also make it ahead of time with three different strategies. Not to mention, pairing it with a limitless amount of frostings. The versatility of this cake is bonkers.
Homemade Vanilla Cake Ingredients
This is an easy homemade vanilla cake recipe with even simpler ingredients. Pantry staples that you should have on hand with no surprises. Let’s dive in:
Dry Ingredients – these include flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Flour is the base of this cake with salt added to enhance and balance flavors. This recipe also uses both baking powder and baking soda to ensure lift without altering flavor.
Wet Ingredients – the wet ingredient mixture includes granulated sugar and real vanilla extract for the best tasting cake, butter for flavor, milk and vegetable oil for moisture, and lastly eggs plus egg whites for a little extra fluff. I told you this cake was the best! You won’t have to worry about texture, or moistness at all.
Tips and Tricks for an Easy Vanilla Cake
After testing this recipe over and over again, I have some tips and tricks for making not only a delicious but also an easy vanilla cake the first time around.
- Follow the Recipe: this might seem like a “duh” tip but you’d be surprised. Use the listed ingredients in the recipe card below and follow the directions carefully.
- Use Room Temperature Ingredients: using room temperature ingredients yields a smoother, better-incorporated cake batter which in turn, makes for a better cake.
- Do Not Over Bake: over baking leads to a dried-out cake. Make sure your oven is set to the right temperature (using an oven thermometer is helpful) and that your cake is baking in the lower two-thirds of the oven.
- Use Parchment Paper: trust me on this one, line your cake pans with parchment paper, and then nonstick cooking spray. This makes for easy cleanup and your cakes will come right out.
- Cool Completely before Frosting: frosting is made up of butter and butter will melt if your cakes aren’t cooled completely! If you’re in a time pinch cool those cakes in the fridge!
Baking Flat Cakes
Okay one more tip for you baking fanatics! And it has to do with how to bake cakes with flat tops. Here’s my secret: The tops of my cakes actually weren’t flat, but the bottoms were! When I assemble and frost my cakes, I flip them upside down so the top is now the bottom and vice versa, thus creating flat “tops”.
But why do cakes rise so much in the middle? Well the sides are being grabbed by the pan which means the middle peaks. Over mixing your batter also tends to result in a peaked top. So if you are wanting to make a two or three tiered cake, I suggest using a serrated knife to level out your cakes.
How to Make Vanilla Cake
The best vanilla cake recipe is a homemade one with easy directions and simple ingredients. Make the batter, bake, cool then stack and frost! For full recipe details check out the recipe card down below.
- Preheat oven. Line cake pans with parchment paper and cooking spray set aside.
- Combine dry ingredients (minus the sugar) into a large bowl and set aside.
- In a separate container mix together the milk and vanilla.
- In a stand mixer, combine butter, oil, and sugar. Then mix in one at a time, the eggs and egg whites. Scrape sides and mix once more. Now alternate adding in the flour mixture and the milk mixture starting and ending with the flour mixture. Scrap the sides and mix again.
- Divide the batter between baking pans and bake until a toothpick comes out clean. Or mostly clean with a few moist crumbs.
- Cool the cakes in the pans until warm. Then flip them over on cooling racks. Cool completely before frosting and decorating.
Vanilla is such a great flavor for a cake because it is so simple and pairs well with just about any other flavor. Which makes choosing your frosting SO much harder!!! Do you go with a creamy buttercream or a slightly tangy cream cheese frosting? Chocolate frosting? Peanut butter frosting? Strawberry? The options are limitless, but I recommend choosing one that you absolutely love. OR, now hear me out, try something new!
- To frost your vanilla cake, stack one cake layer on a serving platter. Plop about 1 – 1 1/2 cups of frosting onto the cake and spread evenly.
- Stack the next cake layer on top. Then cover the sides and top of the cakes with the rest of the frosting. Voila!
One of the best parts of this vanilla cake is that you can make it ahead of time and I’ve outline three different ways to do so!
Make and Store Everything Separately
Bake then cool the cake layers completely. Wrap each cake layer in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 3 days. Along with the cake, make the frosting ahead of time and store in the fridge (covered). When ready to assemble, allow the frosting come to room temperature then give it a quick mix to loosen it up.
Make, Assemble, and Store
This option is pretty straight forward! Make the cake, assemble and frost it then store in the fridge for up to a week! Be sure to store it covered by tenting plastic wrap over it or storing on a cake stand with a cover.
Freeze (frosted or unfrosted)
If you really wanted to make this vanilla cake recipe in advance consider freezing it frosted or unfrosted! Wrap each unfrosted cake layer in plastic wrap then freeze for up to three months. Alternatively, when freezing the frosted cake, freeze unwrapped for a couple of hours, then wrap and freeze for up to three months.
When ready to serve, transfer the cake to the fridge to thaw overnight (unwrap and transfer to a covered container with more room if thawing a frosted cake). Then allow the cakes to come to room temperature on the counter before decorating or serving.
More Cake Recipes to Try!
- Lemon Cake Recipe with Raspberries
- Carrot Cake Recipe
- Simple Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- The Best Cheesecake Recipe
Classic Vanilla Cake Recipe
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/3 cups milk
- 1 tablespoon real vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup salted butter softened
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 whole large eggs
- 2 whole egg whites
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line cake pans with parchment paper and then spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside
- In a liquid measuring cup, combine milk and vanilla. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer, stir butter, oil, and sugar together until combined. Then add-in, one at a time, the eggs and egg whites, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix again. Alternate adding in the flour mixture and the milk mixture, starting and ending with flour. Scrape the sides and mix again to ensure a lump-free batter.
- Divide the batter evenly between baking pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 30-40 minutes in the lower 2/3rds of the oven.
- Cool 15-20 minutes in the cake pans then flip the cakes onto cooling racks. Cool completely before frosting and decorating.
- one – 9×13 cake (bake for 30-45 minutes)
- two- 8 or 9-inch round cakes (30-40 minutes)
- 24 cupcakes (bake for 18-20 minutes)